The murder of George Floyd by the police has led to angry protests in the US (representational image) | Photo: Fibonacci Blue | Wikimedia Commons
The murder of George Floyd by the police has led to angry protests in the US | Fibonacci Blue | Wikimedia Commons File Photo
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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate several countries across the world — the latest count is 6,268,025 cases and more than 373,972 deaths.

The protests in US to the call of ‘Black Lives Matter’ increase fears about a rise in Covid-19 infections. Meanwhile, Bangladesh is taking on Western clothing giants to save its textile industry and Philippines is paying its citizens to move from cities to countryside.

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter. 

US protests increase fears of surge in coronavirus cases

As protests continue to ravage one city after the other in the US after the killing of 46-year-old black man George Floyd, the country could witness a further surge in infections, reports The Guardian.

Floyd was killed after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck, despite repeated appeals by the former that he could not breathe.

“In the US, the country with the world’s highest coronavirus death toll, local state and city officials warned that the public gatherings in the countrywide protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis risked triggering even more infections, with some testing centres being closed because of the protests,” said the report.

“Among them, the Minnesota governor, Tim Walz, warned that hospitals were ‘on the verge of being overrun’, adding that ‘demonstrators should wear masks and try to practice social distancing’, while the Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, said all coronavirus testing centres across the city had closed on Saturday because of safety concerns,” it added.

US is the worst-hit country by the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 18,37,000 cases and over 10,61,000 deaths.

China to invest $1.4 tn in bid to become global tech leader

According to a Bloomberg report, China is all set to invest more than a trillion dollars into key technologies, to try and overtake US as the global leader of technology.

“In the masterplan backed by President Xi Jinping himself, China will invest an estimated $1.4 trillion over six years to 2025, calling on urban governments and private tech giants like Huawei Technologies Co. to lay fifth generation wireless networks, install cameras and sensors, and develop AI software that will underpin autonomous driving to automated factories and mass surveillance,” notes the report.

It adds that the country’s biggest firms of cloud computing and data, such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tensing Holding Ltd, will be the “linchpins of the upcoming endeavour”.

The quest to save Bangladesh’ textile industry during a pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic devastates Bangladesh’s textile industry, the country’s key foreign exchange earner, a “two-pronged campaign is underway to salvage the country’s biggest export earner by cajoling big Western clothing retailers to honor previous purchase commitments,” reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

“Many of the 1,000 or so retailers who source products from Bangladesh have canceled or put on hold textiles orders,” notes the report. In response, the country’s primary textile trade group Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is taking on these global buyers.

“BGMEA has powerful allies, including Bangladeshi Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi,” said the report. “Munshi, who headed the association between 2005 and 2006, said that with the help of Bangladesh’s diplomatic missions abroad, the ministry is pushing Western retailers hard to honor their agreements with Bangladeshi companies, restoring orders that have been canceled or suspended.” 

President Duterte is paying citizens to move from cities to countryside

As the pandemic continues to adversely effect the economy and cost jobs in Philippines, the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte is using the crisis to decongest the capital city of Manila, reports the Straits Times.

“Duterte is offering cash and goods to induce city-dwellers to move out of the greater capital region in an ambitious programme called ‘Back to the Province’, one of the most aggressive attempts in decades to lure Filipinos to the countryside,” said the report.

“More than 2 million jobs had been lost in the Philippines through April 24, about one-third of them in Manila, according to the Labour Department. The densely packed capital region is home to more than 13 million people, and accounts for about two-thirds of the country’s coronavirus cases. With the economy staring at its deepest contraction in three decades and unemployment forecast to reach double digits, many are finding life in the capital less appealing,” it added. 

A stalled revival: Coronavirus in US’ rust belt

Decades of deindustrialisation, stagnant wages and the fallout from the 2008 economic crisis, had left the rust belt cities in the US eroded and a pale sorry shadow of their former selves. This rust belt includes cities from Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

While over the past few years some of these cities such as Detroit had begun to gradually recover, the coronavirus pandemic now jeopardizes it, reports the Financial Times.

“Attracted by low costs, light traffic and architectural masterpieces left over from when these were boom towns, millennials priced out of markets on either coast moved to old industrial cities. They opened cafés and bakeries and pop-up restaurants and art galleries, often with start-up incentives they couldn’t obtain elsewhere, creating Midwest cultural and lifestyle hubs in some of the grittiest cities on Earth,” said the report.

Now, the pandemic has halted that recovery. Residents and experts feel that years of progress has been wiped out in less than two months.

Coronavirus seems to be sparing populations at high altitudes

From the Andes in Latin America to Tibet in China, high altitude places seem to have been spared from the coronavirus pandemic, reports the Washington Post.

“The relative dearth of cases and deaths in the internationally connected but high-elevation region has prompted speculation here that the coronavirus gets soroche, the Quechua word for altitude sickness,” notes the report.

“Scientists warn that the apparent pattern might not last, but the as-yet-unexplained phenomenon has them intrigued. Researchers are starting to investigate a possible relationship between the coronavirus and altitude,” it adds.

Workers living in Mexico help California’s pandemic response

Hundreds of Mexicans and Americans, who live south of the US-Mexico border, cross it everyday to enter Southern California’s hospitals, reports Reuters. “But these are not the patients — they are medical workers and support staff keeping a saturated healthcare system running amid the coronavirus pandemic,” it notes.

“Over a thousand nurses, medical technicians, and support workers who live in the Mexican border towns of Tijuana, Tecate and Mexicali work in the United States, Mexican census data shows. They staff emergency rooms, COVID-19 testing sites, dialysis centers and pharmacies,” it adds.

“The healthcare workers are a reminder that in the interconnected region the state also benefits from cross-border travel, at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that infections in Mexico are a risk for the United States,” remarks the report.

Drive-in theatres are keeping drama alive in Czech Republic

Theatre companies in the Czech Republic were forced to cancel their events due to the pandemic but now they are using parking lots to create drive-in theatres and restart the shows, reports the New York Times.

“Across Europe, drive-ins have become a familiar means of circumventing pandemic restrictions. By default, cars keep their occupants socially distanced, leading even nightclub owners and priests to set up drive-in discos and churches,” said the report.

What else we are reading:

In Some Nations, Coronavirus Is Only One of Many Outbreaks: The New York Times

Trump seeks to shape world opinion on China with expanded G-7: Nikkei Asian Review

Grief, lockdown and coronavirus: a looming mental health crisis: Financial Times

Belgian Prince Joachim apologises for Spanish lockdown party: BBC

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